Constance McMillen Receives $35K Settlement

Apparently all you have to do to get 35 grand these days is endure the harassment and discrimination of your peers, their parents, the school board, and your hometown at large on the basis of your sexual orientation. Last Monday, Constance McMillen’s lawyers filed notice at the U.S. District Court to accept a settlement offer from the Itawamba County School District, who have agreed to fork over $35,000 in addition to attorney’s fees. As well, the school district said it would follow a non-discrimination policy on the basis of sexual orientation in school and extra-curricular activities — though the administration still maintains that they already had such policies in place. Pardon me if I don’t seem impressed by their “honesty.”

Constance McMillen’s story is just one of hundreds of thousands of gay, bisexual, or transgendered youth in this country who have suffered harassment and discrimination. The high school student, blacklisted from prom and humiliated by her community in Fulton, Mississippi, “inspired countless other people around the world to …

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Argentina Legalizes Gay Marriage and Despite California We Get Closer to Equality

God loves the gays! If you needed more proof than the existence of rainbows in nature (seriously, what other purpose do they serve), then you could merely look to the recent giant leaps in the legalization of gay marriage. Following the Iceland’s example, Argentina has legalized same-sex marriage, the first of any Latin American country. CNN describes the political climate that made the legislation possible:

[The law] gives same-sex couples equal marriage rights, including the ability to adopt children. The law was backed by the center-left government of President Cristina Kirchner, who has said she will sign it… Last month’s congressional vote and Wednesday’s Senate vote are the latest moves in a pro-gay marriage trend in Argentine politics. Last year, a judge in Buenos Aires ruled that a ban on same-sex marriage was illegal, paving the way for such marriages in the capital of Argentina. An injunction by another judge stopped what would have been the first same-sex marriage there. Ultimately, Latin America’s first same-sex marriage happened in Argentina in a southern state with a pro-gay marriage governor.

In response to this, there has been an encouragement of the gay rights movement, including Mexico’s brazen support:

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New Passport Policy More Inclusive of Transgender Community

photos of woman and her passport

On Wednesday June 9, the State Department announced a new policy on gender change in passports. If an individual has obtained the proper medical verification, their passport will reflect the transition (or the transition in process, if applicable). The law states:

When a passport applicant presents a certification from an attending medical physician that the applicant has undergone appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition, the passport will reflect the new gender. The guidelines include detailed information about what information the certification must include. It is also possible to obtain a limited-validity passport if the physician’s statement shows the applicant is in the process of gender transition. No additional medical records are required. Sexual reassignment surgery is no longer a prerequisite for passport issuance. A Consular Report of Birth Abroad can also be amended with the new gender.

My first instinct is RAD! — which is probably much like other feminists and supporters of human rights on the information superhighway and the media alike. The government has made somewhat of a space for individuals to assert their own gender! Now, sex reassignment surgery will not be necessary for one to assert their gender, as the government formally acknowledges what many groups already feel to be true: the difference that sex and gender are not one in the same.

Although there is something exciting and cool about the government nodding to somewhat radical ideals, it is nothing more than a nod. Unfortunately, I don’t expect the U.S. government to be the bastion of radical thought regarding the body. I mean, do you?  This new policy reflects a government and a culture that is becoming less exclusive towards the transgender/LGBT community. Does it contain the seeds of less-oppressive tomorrow? Is this actually a victory for transgender/LGBT individuals? Obviously, I would rather this policy exist rather than not, but in many ways, the policy does not engage the dangerous and isolated reality that the aforementioned community faces.
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McDonald’s Goes Gay For Their New French Commercial

And yet another small victory for the LGBT community and their supporters! McDonald’s, a notoriously “family-friendly” franchise, has released a commercial in France depicting a father and son bonding over the oh-so-sumptuous and delectable, though high-calorie, food. The son, who is talking on his cell phone to an apparent significant other, says, “I miss you,” indicating the fact that the two on the phone share an intimate relationship. The boy continues to pore over his class photo, where his partner is assumed to be included, as his father returns with the food. The boy hastily gets off the phone as his father gazes adoringly at his son’s class photo, stating that when he was a boy, all of the girls fawned over him, and it was unfortunate that all of the teenagers in his son’s class photo were, in fact, boys.

The son gives his father a knowing, placating, little smirk and the commercial concludes with the saying, “Venez comme vous êtes,” which translates to, “Come as you are” in English.

While this video, with its fabulous music, touched a sensitive heartstring in me, others have been quick to judge McDonald’s for portraying a closeted individual, stating that the topic should be more out in the open and up for discussion. Nathalie Legarlantezec, the brand director of McDonald’s France, claims:

“We wanted to take a look at how French society is today. We’re very comfortable with the topic of homosexuality, there is obviously no problem with homosexuality in France today.” While the statement sounds a bit naive in a country where same sex couples cannot legally marry nor adopt, the idea was to give a positive image of the brand: “The point was not to show someone who is troubled, especially a teenager. We know it can be difficult for some people, but we wouldn’t have dared show someone who is struggling”.

In my opinion, it’s a small step forward, and as we all know, it’s “one small step for [McDonald's], [but] one giant leap for mankind.”

So, take it for what it’s worth (in my eyes, a lot) and enjoy it. It’s really a great piece of marketing.

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